Another week has flown by here in Georgia. Spring is almost here, things are starting to bloom and the sun is shining! Well.. usually. It's still raining some days. The pixie dust pollen hasn't quite come out to play yet, but it I remember correctly it should any day now. So that will be a treat! haha I've never been so thankful to not have allergies than living here in Georgia and watching so many people have allergies.. Looks rough.
So.. I'm not exactly sure what all I should share with y'all. This week was so good and so rough and so strange all at the same time. You confused yet? Yup! So am I. haha
I don't have a lot of time so I'm just going to write briefly about some of the things that happened this week and maybe even open up about some of the hard things about serving specifically in the south. But probably not too much, because I really do just love it here!
I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints truly is the Lords church, and it is such a blessing and a privilege to teach people about it everyday. The Lord truly blesses His missionaries and He gives us strength and wisdom far beyond our own capacities, and I definitely need that! One of the hardest things in our mission (and I do mean our mission, as in the Georgia Atlanta North Mission, our Southern States missions) is the influence of anti-Mormon theology and literature, often put out by other churches. Virtually everyone we meet has been taught something by their pastor, friend, or the internet regarding the church. Its not uncommon for people to talk to us after our first lesson with them and explain to us that they have talked to their church leader and then proceed to call us liars and such.. Its also interesting when we have people we teach bring their church leaders to our lessons and then allow that person to try to argue with us or as they call it here "bible bash" which I firmly believe is pointless so I'm sure I frustrate a lot of people because I simply wont do it.
Why did I just tell you all of that? Something I'm sure you already knew. Well because it was one of those weeks.. It reminds me of a talk titled "Teach the Atonement" to missionaries by Elder Holland. In it he says that at one time or another on their missions, missionaries will shed at least one tear of sorrow. Sorrow for the pain and anguish of those we teach, or often sorrow as we watch those who begin to learn abandon their newly found faith and leave. Truly it is the hardest thing to watch. No missionary ever wants to talk with someone who had joined the church and hear them say "I won't ever walk back into that church because.." Truly our hearts break as we see others become filled with frustration and anger where peace and love once filled. Needless to say, this week was one of those tears of sorrows week.
With that said, I don't ever give up on anyone. Nor do I believe anyone should ever give up. We all face trials, we all have doubts, but the beautiful thing about the Gospel of Jesus Christ is it is designed to lift us, help us to learn, and bring us closer to our heavenly home which we all desire to return to.
As hard as it is to see the things I described above, the joys always outweigh the sadness we see. At the end of the day the miracles always outweigh the challenges. Missions are hard. So hard. Harder than anything I have ever experienced because its hard emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally. But never in my life have I experienced so much growth, felt so much joy, been filled with so much knowledge, met so many people, and loved as much as I do now. I only have about 4 months left.. And even knowing the hardships that come along with missionary work, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
This week we had the blessing of teaching Sister Spencer and her daughter again a couple times :) They both came to church, and loved it! And they have accepted the invitation to be baptized. Truly Sister Spencer is a woman of faith and I love spending time with her! I learn so much each time we talk and love studying in preparation for our lessons. The Lord really loves her!
Wendy is doing pretty well, the family is doing great as far as reading the scriptures and such are concerned :) Unfortunately her health hasn't been very good this week, but she is so strong and is always reminding us that this is just a way for her to come closer to the Savior, she is such an example to me! John came to an activity at the church for the men and he loved it! It was fun, we saw him at the church and he gave us a big hug and told us about how he had been telling all the men in the church about what angels we are and how much he loves all that we're teaching him. What a wonderful family they are!
The Dixons are still absolutely wonderful :) Wow I love that family! I saw Emma at seminary this morning and she just made the best comments, and really taught me so much!
We sang in church yesterday :) I loved it! It was so much fun :) But unfortunately I was dinking around on the piano trying to work on our parts and someone overheard.. so I have been roped into playing the piano for a baptism.. YIKES! Primary songs are so much harder than hymns.. and I can't even play hymns! haha So.. extra prayers would be much appreciated! I also was supposed to speak in church yesterday, but thankfully the Sister Hamilton show got broken up into two weeks. haha So I'll be speaking this week, which I'm actually super excited.. yup, I'm one of those freaks who loves public speaking.
There was a stake activity for girls 10-11 and they asked us to come and be with them. Can you say SO much fun!? I really loved it! We did hula-hoop. I got challenged to a cartwheel contest (in jeans) and of course lost.. haha. But It was just fun to talk to them about what its like to be a missionary and have them talk to us about their life. They are so fun! Still so young, but think they are so old :) We had two girls we/the elders are teaching there. and they loved it! They also came to church so that was exciting :) Helen, age 11, said "We will definitely be coming every week from now on" to which her grandma (a member who hasn't been in many years) smiled and said "Sister Hamilton she's telling the truth, I don't think we'll be going anywhere."
Like I said, the joy always outweighs the setbacks. Always. Ours is a message of good news, it truly brings more light and life into our lives. It fills us with happiness indescribable. It is the way to have true peace. I know it is because I've tested it. I know there is happiness available for all, but I can promise that there is an increased measure of joy and happiness when our lives are centered on Jesus Christ and follow the principles of His gospel.
Thank you for your love and prayers. I feel them, and I love you all so much!!